Chances are that you are reading this blog sitting in front of the computer or lying down with a tablet. Do you ever wonder how much time in the day you spent just simply sitting put. If you recall you probably sat your way to work, came up and sat on the office chair all day long and sat back to travel home, where you may have thrown yourself on a sofa or a bed to unwind.
Many of us are real couch potatoes without realizing it. This term was actually satirically created in the 1970s for comic characters depicting sedentary lifestyles by watching television all the time. As more and more of us turn into couch potatoes with modern day devices we carry around 24X7, we are actually living that very same inactive existence of turning in-tuning in-vegetating out!
With online-everything-facility we do banking, shopping and even socializing, all on the internet. The LED screen stops us from moving about and we do not know anymore the fun and benefits of regular errands. The most important invention of our times makes us its prisoner and this sitting disease goes on to create very bad lifestyles. We get up dim-eyed everyday to plonk back on beds at night ready for another deskbound day.
It will not be long before we begin to pay the price of sitting around all the time. Physical inactivity is already raising risks of developing heart disease, diabetes, cancer and of course obesity – the mother of all diseases. We seem to have completely forgotten that human beings are genetically engineered to move about. Lack of physical movement results in disastrous consequences for the human body.
Lack of exercise causes muscle atrophy bringing on shrinking and weakening of muscles. This apart from increasing chances of physical injury adds risks to the body’s immune defenses being reduced. It is clear staying put is an invitation to diseases. The sad part is that we are all well aware of the consequences of leading sedentary lifestyles but yet do not pay heed to getting active for achieving good health. An inactive routine and lack of physical activity contributes for multiple diseases.
It is a fact that sitting-put may cause premature death. The risk is decidedly higher for those of us who sit still more than 5 hours every day. This in itself is a known risk, free of the fact that one could be doing exercises or have good BMI. Further people who sit still more than 4 hours per day have a 40 percent higher risk than those that sit fewer than 4 hours. Lack of physical activity is then one of the leading causes of preventable death – worldwide.
January 19 is celebrated as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the USA. In 1971 only a handful of American states were commemorating Martin Luther King’s birthday. It was in 1983 President Ronald Reagan signed a bill for a federal holiday to honor King. Thus the day was observed for the first time on January 20, 1986. Later, in 1992 President George Bush declared the holiday be observed on the third Monday of January each year, closer to King’s birthday on January 15. Subsequently on January 17, 2000 for the first time Martin Luther King Jr. Day was officially observed in all fifty states. It is one of four United States federal holidays that commemorates an individual person!
Martin Luther King Jr. as many of us are aware was the chief spokesman for nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement in USA. He successfully protested racial discrimination in federal and state law. It was actually in 1968 after his assassination that a campaign was started for a federal holiday to honor him. It is interesting to make note that the city of Hiroshima in Japan also celebrates the day, with the mayor holding a special banquet to observe peace and to honor King and his message on human rights. Today, the world over Martin Luther King continues to inspire all of us working on human rights.
Martin Luther King is well known all over the world for his famous “I Have a Dream” 17-minute speech that he delivered in Washington DC on August 28, 1963 on the occasion of the March organized to draw attention at the desperate plight of Afro-Americans in southern U.S. Organized in the Capital of USA, right before the seat of power – King’s speech shared concerns and grievances of the suffering of the people. “I Have a Dream” is regarded as one of the finest speeches in the history of American oratory.
The March and King’s speech actually helped in putting civil rights at the top of the agenda of the reforms that were taken up in the US. It would not be incorrect to state that this facilitated the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Interestingly in 1984, the original typed copy of the speech with Dr. King’s handwritten notes on it was found to be in possession of George Raveling, first African-American basketball coach in University of Iowa. The 26 year old Raveling, standing close to the podium impulsively asked King for the copy of the speech. He got it!
Here is the famed “I Have a Dream” part of the speech –
“I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.”
For some of us making an offering of our own dead body for the good of society is an opportune way to give back to humanity. Nowadays many more people are choosing to donate their bodies to medical study and research. This is usually because donors or their family members have had the benefits of life saving medical technology or procedures through organ transplantation. However this may not be the only reason as many others simply opt for altruistic reasons for donating bodies.
Body donation has the person giving away the entire body after natural death for purposes of medical research and education. It is true the need for bodies for medical study is always there and research on them can continue to save lives. Body donation is a choice one exercises while alive, and one may or may not discuss even within the family. All you need do is contact concerned authorities and fill out the necessary paperwork to give your body to medical institutes.
It is usually medical colleges that accept dead human bodies for donation that are required for teaching students. It is a useful gesture that helps students understand human bodies and is also essential for reasons of advancing knowledge of medical sciences. Medical colleges make use of bodies to teach anatomy to medical students. They may cover the cost of cremation or burial once the cadaver serves its medical purpose or they may return the body back to the family for ritualistic interment.
Any person who wishes to donate a body has to make certain prior arrangements with local medical colleges and complete formalities before death. This usually involves filling out consent forms and completing requisite information therein. It is at this time that the person is also provided with the relevant details of processes and procedures that will take place after expiry.
Every country has its own rules and regulations with regard to accepting body donations. In United Kingdom body donation is governed under the Human Tissue Authority Act, 2004 that gives licenses for the purpose and inspects medical establishments accepting bodies. In the United States body donation is not regulated through licensure and inspection by the federal government. But the American States are subject to their own legislation of tissue donation under the donor’s legal right to choose body donation under the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act. In India after various amendments to Odisha Anatomy Act, some states have legalized voluntary body donation. People in India can donate their body after death by signing a pledge form along with two accompanying witness signatures.
Decisions regarding body donations are influenced by your sense of social awareness, cultural attitudes and your thinking about body donation. A number of donors are influenced by a sense of altruism and by their wish to assist in the advancement of medical knowledge as also to be useful after death. Also one may be driven by need to help future generations, be useful for medical field or simply to avoid funeral ceremonies.
Steps for Body Donation after death:
- Contact medical facilities that accept whole body donation.
- Fill out registration and consent forms to donate your body.
- Keep a wallet card that notifies people of the intention to donate the body.
- Complete transport arrangements with the facility of your choice.
- Inform your doctor and immediate family members about the intention.
- You may determine what you want for your body after it has been studied.
- Make alternative arrangements. Some bodies not suitable for medical study in case of major operation done to them are returned to families.
- Think about what you want done if your body is unable to donate itself to science.
- You can cancel your decision any time by notifying the medical college in writing.
Despite the brouhaha about ‘acche din’ or good days as they say, it remains a hard fact that the youth of our country continue to confront challenges for getting suitable job placements after graduating from their studies. Creating a platform for availability of jobs that suits the employer base and that readily absorbs a growing number of young people entering the work force, is now part of HERD Foundations inherent activities. The Employment Fair is a regular feature, adding value to our education component.
We start off each year to understand and estimate availability of productive jobs in our vicinity. Alongside we explore the spectrum of disciplines that will respond to such openings. With final year students ready to walk out of portals of educational institutions in March each year, such an enterprise becomes all the more meaningful. With due preparation we remain focused on the employment scenario in formal/informal, private/public and urban/rural sectors for jobs that become source of income for the needy.
The Foundation pays special attention to low income families comprising majority of the population. We see good impact of efforts in the employment sector to positively influence growth and expansion of opportunities for more applicants who are able to secure suitable and better paying jobs. This then becomes a reason for much satisfaction and one that complements our work on poverty mitigation. We encourage young people to open up to ever widening choices. In a region beset with challenges for employment, the youth are actually provided due hand-holding and support to seek every possibility.
Vidarbha has not escaped the youth employment crisis and in fact in rural areas the situation is really quite grim. Unemployment rate for young male graduates in rural region is particularly high. The whole point of provision of education here appears to be in a morass if employment avenues are not in sight. In fact we are keen to start vocational education in these parts so that we can then offer them increased chances to find jobs as also to facilitate self-employment. This will be beneficial in the long-term too.
As an advocate for youth HERD Foundation is attempting to ensure that candidates commit themselves completely to this endeavor. We make certain that they make full use of the opportunity to participate effectively in their own best interests. We address the match between prospective companies and qualified students that opens up ways to reduce long-term youth unemployment. The attempt is also to train candidates to become fully equipped in following through with the demands of employers. For this we organize measures like extended training programmes to enable better access to jobs.
One of the oldest expositions in astronomy is our very own Surya Siddhanta that lays down rules with regard to the motions of celestial bodies. The treatise informs about actual positions of luminaries in the sky, giving their locations along with calculations of solar eclipses and solstices. One may be surprised to learn that it also gives information on the lengths of the Earth’s diameter and circumference!
Surya Siddhanta or the Sun Treatise defines Uttarayana as the period between the Makara Sankranti occurring around January 14 and Karka Sankranti that falls around July 16. Uttara meaning North and Ayana meaning movement indicates the northward movement of the Sun on its celestial course. This is then the period that is celebrated all across our country as an auspicious time.
Today, we are at the threshold of Uttarayana when the Sun’s movement in relation to Earth shifts from its southern run to its northward progression. Spiritually inclined people readily identify this transition as a phase positively affecting their consciousness levels, facilitating them to thrive inwardly. The first half of Uttarayana until the equinox in March is a period that is more amenable to such awakening.
The human body is of course a cosmos in itself. All that occurs in the external realm manifests in subtle ways in the human body too. For many of us such transitions go unnoticed. But conscientious human beings can sense alignment to such movements that positively affect their bodies and bodily functions. Especially yogis and sensitized beings keep themselves attuned to such cosmic movements.
Makara Sankranti then is a festival that celebrates our oneness with the universe. It reminds us that we are part and parcel of the cosmos and that our human life is in conjunction with celestial movements of time and space. It may be likened to an enlightening phase bringing on universal fulfillment creating significant impacts on human system functioning. Yogic practices continue to teach people the significant relevance on human bodies as also attainment of spiritual processes.
Even as we might begin to fathom at celestial and spiritual connotations of this day, it is remarkable that it is celebrated with such gusto throughout the length and breadth of our country. Literally the first festival of the New Year, it pre-empts harsh winters coming to an end, is the harbinger of harvest and symbolizes joyous rites and rituals. It is a day best lived by children spending time flying kites – a tradition of our times.
HERD Foundation is concerned with regard to drift in development trends in the face of continuing employment crisis that obstructs efforts to mitigate poverty. With a view to improve the standard of living and enhance prosperity, especially for youth just stepping out into the real world, the Foundation organizes yearly Employment Fairs to open up avenues for candidates keen on getting placement as per their qualification.
For professional students walking out of colleges it is a huge opportunity to interact directly with companies that offer openings in various areas. Candidates from both urban and rural areas look up to this event with great hope and satisfaction. Bringing well known companies to their doorstep, so to say, the uncertainty and insecurity in the wake of a just-completed education is a very welcome opportunity.
The acquiring of jobs is a sure shot way to increase standards of living. It helps address our attempts to mitigate poverty. Our past experiences tell us that many families escape poverty simply because one family member is able to secure a job and thereby initiate a source of income for the family. Therefore HERD Foundation works on improving the employment scenario as this is central to our development agenda.
Securing jobs and successfully inducting newly passed out students to a line of work of their choice, does transform their lives. A steady source of income improves living standards and pulls people out of their penury. With appropriate training for being successful in getting placement we prepare them to be efficient and more productive in their jobs. Also, we bring about social cohesion when we gather candidates from various social backgrounds to jointly take on opportunities coming their way.
Provision of jobs can really alter lives for the better and provide wider benefits. For instance, besides taking care of the basic needs of a family, women candidates may actually change the way households spend money by focusing on spending on education and health areas. It is heartening to note that more and more women of working age are participating in our Employment Fair. We also feel gratified by the inclusion of rural candidates for whom competing with city students for jobs is a challenge in itself.
HERD Foundation realizes that just provision of jobs may not be enough. With plentiful rural poor involved with farming or self-employment in areas like vegetable selling, sewing and other such occupations we foresee the need to find ways to augment incomes especially in the rural sector. In this the role of development of new skills in line with locally available opportunities for increasing earnings will play an essential role for a more productive scenario.